Night Boat to Tangier: A Novel (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

Two middle-aged Irishmen, drug runners, wait at a Spanish port for someone who may or may not arrive. Inevitable comparisons to Samuel Beckett aside, this musical novel puts beautiful language to very ugly deeds, and it examines their consequences as a jeweler might inspect the facets of a gemstone.

— Nell


From the acclaimed author of the international sensations City of Bohane and Beatlebone, a striking and gorgeous new novel of two aging criminals at the tail ends of their damage-filled careers. A superbly melancholic melody of a novel full of beautiful phrases and terrible men.

In the dark waiting room of the ferry terminal in the sketchy Spanish port of Algeciras, two aging Irishmen -- Maurice Hearne and Charlie Redmond, longtime partners in the lucrative and dangerous enterprise of smuggling drugs -- sit at night, none too patiently. It is October 23, 2018, and they are expecting Maurice's estranged daughter, Dilly, to either arrive on a boat coming from Tangier or depart on one heading there. This nocturnal vigil will initiate an extraordinary journey back in time to excavate their shared history of violence, romance, mutual betrayals and serial exiles, rendered with the dark humor and the hardboiled Hibernian lyricism that have made Kevin Barry one of the most striking and admired fiction writers at work today.

About the Author

KEVIN BARRY is the author of the novels Beatlebone and City of Bohane and the story collections Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. His awards include the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Prize and the Lannan Foundation Literary Award. His stories and essays appear in the New Yorker, Granta and elsewhere. He also works as a playwright and screenwriter, and he lives in County Sligo, Ireland.

Praise For…


“Dark, haunting. . .A gripping narrative. . .[It] calls to mind Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. . .Barry’s a remarkable sentence-level writer who’s capable of extraordinary turns of phrase. . .Night Boat to Tangier is remarkable, a novel that's both grim and compassionate, and it features gorgeous writing on every page. Barry never asks the reader to pity his characters; rather, he makes it nearly impossible not to relate to them, which is a remarkable trick.
—Michael Schaub, NPR
“[A] high-low style of philosophical clowns out of Beckett or Jez Butterworth. . .Kevin Barry has a fine instinct for the sweet spot where the comforting familiarities of genre blend into the surprises and provocations of art. . .Back story is where novels often sag, but in this case it’s where the book hits its propulsive stride. . .Barry has a great gift for getting the atmospheres of sketchy social hubs in a few phosphorescent lines, and much of the pleasure of the book is in being transported from one den of iniquity to another, effortlessly and at high speed. . .If you like your dark deeds illuminated by Dostoyevskian insight this might not be the book for you. But the sheer lyric intensity with which it brings its variously warped and ruined souls into being will be more than enough for most readers. It certainly was for me.”
—James Lasdun, The New York Times Book Review  
"Kevin Barry channels the music in every voice, from lowlife philosopher to slow-footed thug, ponderous wit to fluting child — and the comic genius in everyone, whether unfunny fool or God’s own comedian."
—Ellen Akins, The Washington Post 

"Night Boat to Tangier
, like Beckett’s Godot, is about the wait. It’s about hunkering down and admitting the presence of old ghosts. . .Barry is such a deft and generous writer. . .[He] spackles his novel with poetic utterances. . .We’ve met guys like Maurice and Charlie before, of course. . .We know them from Charles Bukowski’s work, from the delightful novels of the Scottish writer James Kelman, from William Kennedy’s Ironweed, from Elmore Leonard and many others. But Barry manages to make this territory his own, and to make it fresh."
—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"Tautly written. . .Dreamlike."
—The New Yorker 

"A darkly incantatory tragicomedy of love and betrayal, haunted lineage and squandered chances. . .Barry rightly landed on the Booker Prize longlist with this, his beautifully paced, emotionally wise third novel. Spare in its prose, capacious in its understanding, it’s as eerily attuned as his last one, Beatlebone, to the ancient spirits that flit through the Irish landscape, and as festering with unsavory personages as his debut, City of Bohane. . .Barry will lull you right under his spell and into a wary sympathy for the pain of these men with their battered, hopeful hearts."
Laura Collin-Hughes, The Boston Globe

"Barry’s new book, the story of two Irish criminals biding their time in the Spanish port city of Algeciras, is full of foreboding and of ghosts, not least that of Samuel Beckett, and is continuing proof of this writer’s ability to pack more personality and mordant wit into a single sentence than most writers can manage in a novel."
—Lit Hub 

"Try the name Flann O'Brien. Try James Joyce. Try Roddy Doyle. Try Patrick McCabe. Try Wilde, try McGahern, try Behan. And now try the name Kevin Barry. See how it fits in perfectly among the others--Kevin Barry is one of the most original, daring, and seriously funny writers ever to come out of Ireland. I'd walk a hundred miles for a new Barry book and I would make the happy journey home, laughing."
—Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin 
“You read this, and you can tell Barry doesn't take his sentences lightly. It'd kill him to mess one up. And he doesn't waste them. So what you get is his style's flawless, and yet it isn't soft. There isn't anything nice about the story, just that it's told beautifully.”  
—Nico Walker, author of Cherry
“It’s a Kevin Barry novel, so the brilliance is expected; everything else is a brilliant surprise.”
—Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha 
"I devoured Night Boat to Tangier. I loved the potent truth of it all, drenched in damage and romance. The Barry turn of phrase is a true wonder of this world.”
—Max Porter, author of Grief is the Thing With Feathers
“A bloody mighty novel. It's audacious, but also it's Kevin Barry at his most tender. The novel carries a beautiful, mournful undertow to it, which is particularly affecting in a book so heavy with old myth and new poetry. May he keep twisting literature forever.”
Lisa McInerney, author of The Glorious Heresies

"[Barry] is a writer of inspired prose, a funny and perceptive artist who can imbue a small story with tremendous depth. . .A sad lyrical beauty of a novel about regret, from a dependably entertaining and perceptive writer."
Minneapolis Star Tribune

"Wildly and inventively coarse, and something to behold. As far as bleak Irish fiction goes, this is black tar heroin."
Publishers Weekly 

"Deeply satisfying. . .magical. . .Barry's narrative pacing creates and then brilliantly settles the tensions between his characters. For all readers of literary fiction."
Library Journal 

"If the set-up evokes Beckett the dramatist, the language of Night Boat to Tangier is much more like that of Beckett the novelist. . .Dense and evocative. . .This is rich fare." 
Financial Times, London 

Product Details
ISBN: 9780385540315
ISBN-10: 0385540310
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: September 17th, 2019
Pages: 272